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Sen. Nelson Asks For Federal Review Of Pinellas Schools

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Sen. Bill Nelson

Florida Sen. Bill Nelson is joining those who are calling for federal review of Pinellas County’s use of Title I funds for education.  

Credit Tampa Bay Times graphic

In a letter to the Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Nelson cited the five schools described in a Tampa Bay Times article as “failure factories.”

The article cites a policy of "re-segregation" by the Pinellas County School Board as largely responsible for the failures.

In an interview with WUSF News, Tampa Bay Times reporter Michael LaForgia  said "Well, what we found out is that African-American kids in these schools are doing worse than African-American kids in virtually any other schools in Florida. In fact, ninety-five percent of the black kids who were tested in these schools in 2014 failed reading or math."

Here's Sen. Nelson's letter to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan:


United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510



August 24, 2015

The Honorable Arne Duncan

Secretary of Education

U.S. Department of Education

400 Maryland Avenue, SW

Washington, D.C. 20202

Dear Mr. Secretary:

I am writing you about five public elementary schools in Pinellas County, Florida.  Specifically, Maximo, Lakewood, Campbell Park, Fairmount Park and Melrose elementary schools have an alarmingly low student performance rate

These schools based in predominantly African-American neighborhoods are among the worst in the state, according to a report in the Tampa Bay Times which found that the schools do not have adequate resources.

 That is why I respectfully request that the U.S. Department of Education review how the local school district is using Title I dollars intended to bolster schools that serve children from low-income families.

 I am enclosing a copy of the Tampa Bay Times article. I appreciate your prompt attention to this urgent matter.


Bill Nelson


Last week U.S. Representative Kathy Castor called for a similarreviewof what she called a “crisis” in St. Petersburg’s neighborhood schools.

The Pinellas County School district responded to the investigation with a list of initiatives it has instituted as well as some short-term results it says indicates progress toward improvement.

The district further said "the road to transformation begins with solutions, not blame."

M.S. Butler joined WUSF in October, 2014 after becoming the first recipient of the Stephen Noble Intern Scholarship. A Bay Area resident since 1999, he became a full-time student at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg in Fall 2012.He has written articles for the school newspaper The Crow’s Nest covering topics ranging from seasonal flu shots to students carrying guns on campus.
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